Via Meadia has often made clear our supreme confidence that Iran would use the bomb responsibly, if at all, should the peace-loving mullahs manage to develop it. The Guardian reports more news of a confidence-building nature:
A multinational investigation into bomb plots targeting Israeli diplomats earlier this year has produced the clearest evidence yet that Iran was involved, illustrating the risks to the west if it fails to reach detente with Tehran over its nuclear weapons programme…
In India, local agencies told ministers a bomb attack which badly injured the wife of the Israeli military attaché in New Delhi in February was the work of an Iranian “security entity”.
As stories like this one make clear, Iran is exactly the sort of regime we want to empower with nukes. Who better to be responsible stewards of the most destructive weapons known to man?
In all seriousness though, it should be obvious by now to all reasonable observers that Iran is an unstable regime shot through with dangerous anti-Semitic impulses, apocalyptic fantasy and convoluted conspiracy thinking that has no business anywhere near nuclear weapons. In this regard, much ink has been spilled over whether the mullahs are “rational actors” or not–i.e. whether they would bomb Israel even if this would result in devastating retaliation–but Via Meadia thinks that such speculation misses an important point: anti-Semitism is never a rational policy, yet it persists. Infamously, Hitler and the Nazis exiled their own best physicists because they were Jewish, enabling the US to win the nuclear arms race and ultimately World War II. History is replete with stories of countries driving productive citizens into exile because Jew-hatred is an irrational passion that overmasters common sense and destroys the ability to perceive ones own best interests.
True, risking a retaliatory nuclear strike requires an unusual degree of paranoia and hatred, but enough Israelis have enough historical memory of the irrationality that Jew-hatred brings in its wake that it’s unrealistic to expect Israel to accept an Iranian bomb no matter how rational the experts say the mullahs really are.
Those fears cannot just be dismissed. If there were an Olympics of Jew-hating, the competition for the gold medal would be tough, but few could deny that Iran fields a strong team. Few countries, if any, have engaged in more anti-Semitic activity or can match the hothouse conspiracy thinking routinely encountered in the Islamic Republic that made Ahmadinejad a world famous religious nut. While it’s true that not-so-mysterious computer viruses and other untoward accidents involving nuclear scientists give Iranians solid ground for worrying about Israeli measures against their government, Iranian hostility and paranoia about Israel and Jews predates official Israeli hostility toward Iran and its nuclear program.
It’s important to remember that Israel didn’t start the clandestine war between the two countries. Way back in 1994, Iran was implicated in the bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people and wounded scores more. It was an act of unprovoked overseas terrorism for which Interpol has charged five Iranian officials–including current Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi. When not carrying out such attacks themselves, Iran has been funneling money and arms to anti-Israel terrorist proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah for many years; back in 2002, during the Second Intifada, Iran sent 50 tons of weaponry to the PLO aboard the Karine-A freighter, which was intercepted by the Israelis and brandished as the link between Iran and the terrorist group by the EU’s Javier Solana. Iran’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish escapades, in other words, are nothing new, and certainly not a response to recent tensions.
Even if there were no Israel, Iran’s nuclear drive threatens some vital American interests and allies, and the US would have to resist. Countries like Saudi Arabia view Iran’s government with a deep fear and loathing. Throw Israel into the mix, as a factor in Middle East politics and the US domestic politics on the issue, and President Obama’s oft-repeated judgment on the matter looks sound: the US must stop any Iranian bomb drive because the effort to contain a nuclear Iran will make everything in the Middle East even worse than it is.